Campaign of the Month: August 2018

The Praise of Old Men

Chapter Four: Demons Of The Burning Night: Part Five
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Tarek Nev – The Palace Of V'rama Vair (II)

Exploring the rest of the circular upper floor reveals little of interest at first. Those oddly boarded up sections that the party hide surprisingly mundane chambers and items. Drawn inexorably to the central circular chamber the party find an outer waiting room, complete with war trophies, that leads into the heart of the tower. They also, after a little perseverance, uncover a hidden door on the other side of the middle chamber. This door has no obvious opening mechanism but by trial and error, they manage to open the way.

The central room is dominated by a large four poster bed, V'rama's perhaps? There are also three odd pillars topped with glowing gem stones, these begin to gently pulse as light from Ugnan's lantern falls into the dark windowless chamber. Sylke steps into the room and promptly vanishes. Unbeknown to her companions, the inquisitive mage has been teleported to the floor below and she finds herself in the eerie temple to the terrifyingly brutish god bearing the sickle. Drawn again to the Stone of Fiala, Sylke attempts to attune to the artifact but fails. While V'rama lives, she learns, no-one can take control of the powerful item. By the time she rushes up stairs however, others have leapt into the room after her. One-by-one Ugnan, Cran, Cherry, Numal and Victor are drawn below and forced to make their way back up stairs.

Aware of the "annoying" trap, the companions step over the section of floor that is acting as a portal and soon gather again in the bedchamber. Sylke tells the party that because she attempted to gain control of the Stone, she knows that somehow V'rama is alive. She obviously escaped the city's destruction and possibly using the Portal Rods, has fled and become trapped in time. 

The three gem stones, it turns out, hold the corporeal remains of three of V'rama's lovers: General Mortilas, Embrosar and Prince Jeremas. The General, when summoned, is a tragic figure who can remember little about his "death". However, cursed (it seems) to live and die in an endless series of wars and battles, he merely seeks a final release. Now that his soul is sundered from his corporeal form, the party could end the aeons he has suffered. He tells Cran that he "knows" his body prowls an underground battle arena somewhere in the city. Defeat him (and none ever have) and crush the gem.

Embrosar is a towering, arrogant man who merely wishes to take his revenge on V'rama who, like Mortilas, tired of him and killed him with her sorcery. Howwever, though he pledges his aid, he does not know where his mortal remains are and is shocked to learn that he is dead. Shaken by Ugnan's revelation he promises to aid the party but requires proof that V'rama is alive; find her war helmet, the Helm of Kadaena.

The last shade summoned belongs to that of Prince Jeremas, cruel and demanding, he too wishes to destroy V'rama but is provoked by the party and uses his sorcery to take control of Cran's mind, forcing the warrior to turn on the party. Ugnan quickly calms the angry spirit but Cran, unnerved and shaken by the attack, instantly swings Shieldbreaker at the spirit in a mighty cleaving stroke. Jeremas' "essence" is destroyed in a fearsome strike and begins to pour back into the gemstone.

Searching the chamber again, the party discover a trapdoor in the ceiling which leads to an upper "summoning chamber" of some form.

Blue metal runes have somehow been crafted such that they hover a few inches above the floor, forming a protective circle. In the centre, a book written in Black Nureti details a complicated ritual, "Destiny's Denial". All Sylke can discover is that this complex and densely written esoteric tome is a treatise on immortality. A locked copper colored cupboard contains a wealth of valuable herbs that Ugnan, after Cran's perusal (for Rewk), begins to carefully stow in his pack. Atop an amber cube is a half-filled flask of sweet-smelling green fluid (slightly oily in appearance) … 

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Chapter Four: Demons Of The Burning Night: Part Four
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Tarek Nev – The Palace Of V'rama Vair

Defeating the demon and the two creatures that have been attracted to the fight by the power of Shieldbreaker, the companions head deeper into the darkness, hoping to navigate their way to the large construction they can remember from their brief high pass over the city in their airship. Ugnan needs time to recover from the injuries he removes from Victor but, white-faced as he is, the party relentlessly head deeper into the wasted  heart of Tarek Nev.

Picking up the remains of a once mighty thoroughfare, the party eventually come to the  building they sort.

Entering through the front lobby, the palace seems deserted. It has fared better than any of the other buildings that they have discovered and seems to have escaped much of the devastation that descended on Tarek Nev all those thousands of years ago. The geometry of the palace is disturbing however. Corridors are just a little too narrow. Doors perhaps to tall, windows "wrong" and the veilings neither low or high in a "traditional" sense. With a growing sense of unease, the party head past a dried up fountain and enter an almost impossibly long hallway that is decorated with an intricate marble, glass and gem encrusted mosaic floor. 

A tall black obelisk, stands in the center of the hall, even from a distance, Ugnan and Sylke can feel the power that the artifact exudes.

Some sort of throne room (complete with enormous emerald chairs) and map room lies to the north of the hallway, a chapel, complete with stained glass window to the west. All of these rooms are eerily quiet and empty and though Victor caught a fleeting glimpse of an odd blue-coloured spryte on first entering the palace, nothing moves now. Victor's companions feel somehow slightly reassured by Victor's tale as they can recall similar glimpses back in Sel-kai. Whatever the creature is, they have not seen it for some considerable time. A member of Queen Mab's court, the creature  seems merely to be some sort of emissary or spy and it has never been anything of a threat – "a bloody annoyance", mutters Cran.

The chapel's altar is bare of any decoration and stands in front of a heavy stone statue of one of the long forgotten Nureti gods. The statue is humanoid bust definitely "bestial"; heavy limbed and browed, the figure carries a hooked and barbed sickle in his left hand and cradles an infant in his right. 

Finding stairs to an upper floor, the party find a circular tower which once again has an expensive gem-and-glass mosaic floor. Steel doors ward some of the rooms and in what appears to be an armory or museum of sorts, Cherry finds a valuable set of plate armor concealed underneath a dusty tarpaulin. Cherry also finds a useful shield that she decides to keep for herself, Victor puts on the elaborate plate armor.

A locked steel door protects an inner library but aside from a disappointingly (and deeply mysterious) empty sack, the bookshelves and chamber are empty. And still nothing moves or threatens the party despite the low constant thumping noise emanating from Cran's sword….

 

 

 

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Chapter Four: Demons Of The Burning Night: Part Three
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Tarek Nev – The Palace Approach

The characters continue to hug the red wall to their left, keen to keep away from the dark heart of the cursed city. Eventually, the crumbling wall ends in a wide avenue that heads into what appears to have once been a rather large walled estate; the rubble and vine-clad remains of numerous grand homes are dotted around the enclosed grounds. Two children sit in the middle of the cobbled road that leads into the heart of the estate but they seem oblivious to the party. Wary of the illusions, traps and demons that now fill the city, the party press on though Sylke is clearly disturbed by the sight.

Heading deeper into the city, the murk and gloom that fill the air gradually threaten to disorientate the party and concerned that they may get lost, Cherry suggests laying down chalk marks on as many of the intact walls that line their route as possible; a nearby blue-white wall to their right fits the bill perfectly. However as the party gather around the diminutive rogue, Sylke attempts to slip away. Clearly upset by the sight of the two children and with her nerves frayed by the city, her inner demons have got the better of what remains of her self-control. Sprinting back to the children, Sylke is pursued by the rest of the party.

Both "children" claim that a terrible monster killed their friends when they were urged to hide in a "the gardens"  by their parents when the city came under attack. The illusion that is masking these two demons  lends plausibility to their story and both Sylke and Cran are keen to help; the "children" point away to the north, "… it was so fast! Jeremak was jus' standin' and then he fell over, his head was all red."

Ugnan is clearly furious when he arrives and in tones that the party have never heard before, he unceremoniously dresses down Sylke and Cran before sternly warning the rest of the party. He too is fooled by the illusion that conceals the real identity of the children but he is unmoved by their story of a monster in a garden. Though he too believes their terrifying tale, he urges the party to continue with their first objective, navigating their way to the large palace-like structure away to the northwest.

Moving away from the "children", Cran seems the most affected but somewhat chagrined by the healer's wise words, he too heads away, casting only the occasional glance over his shoulders.

Eventually the companions find the impressive towers of the large dockyard. Searching these quickly, they sort out a defense strategy should they have to retreat; the southern of the two towers is the most easily defended. Though neither of the towers have anything but the remains of a second floor, both ceilings are stable and largely intact. The doors to both towers have long since been destroyed but magic can block the doorway if needed. 

An overgrown road leads further north and with no obvious stars or convenient walls to use as markers, the companions decide to follow this. It seems sensible that if the structure they intend to get to is a palace, it would surely be connected to the city via a major thoroughfare?

As they approach a junction, the party become aware that both the left and right hand paths are "blocked" by deep pools of inky blackness, much darker and more intense than the swirling smut and murk that fills the air around them. Stepping away to their left, the party are intent on heading westwards but their path is blocked by an ominous shape that emerges from the blackness. Fully eleven feet tall and wreathed in flame, the demon forbids them to pass. Cran and Sylke both step towards the demon intent on meeting its challenge and though Sylke's speed is enough to allow her to cast her spell before the demon can even draw his sword, the creature is too fast for Cran. Within seconds the huge fighter is dazed and struggling with a crushed helm that surely saved his life from the awful power of the demon's great battle-blade.

The creature is rocked by the assault of the party as they converge on it but it is fearsomely powerful and fast and even with a clutch of powerful weapons at their disposal, the companions are hard pressed. Recovering from his near fatal blow, Cran unsheathes Shieldbreaker

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Situation Report Thirty Two
Demons and time shifting

I have to admit, I'm scared. Really scared. I am barely able to hawk up any spit as we contemplate the road leading into Tarek Nev. My mind wanders to Sergeant Splitter. "Anyone who is confident before a battle, hasn't been in one." I've been in a few now and mostly knew what to expect, but now I'm fucking shitting myself.

Time and space are weird in Tarek Nev, so I focus purely on my martial training, but struggle to control the crew. It's like trying to round up fish after a net has split.

I feel for Sylke, who seems to be suffering worse than the rest of us. She's got some deep shit going on.

Not fifty yards into the ruins, we are assaulted by a group of tall dark slender demons with black feathery wings. They're fast and deadly, but by Cay our weapons make mincemeat of them.

Looking at the faces of the crew, and the flecks of saliva and blood down my armour, I must have let the boulder slide down the glacier again. The new bloke looks positively green. Did I attack him?

Just what we need in this place. Ugnan asks after me as he does his thing with my wounds and I feel most of the aches and cuts disappear. Sure sign I lost my shit.

One of these days I'm going to kill someone again. Shit.

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Chapter Four: Demons Of The Burning Night: Part Two
6056.1.65

Tarek Nev – Beyond The Gate

Stepping out of the demon's maw, the party are almost immediately aware that they have entered a very unnatural environment. The air is thick with smoke and the black flecks of floating debris. Visibility is little more than about 30 yards and the though the sky above is just about visible through the haze and smog, it adds to a feeling of unease and disorientation. Stars appear and disappear as the sky turns from night and day with astonishing speed. The moons and sun track across the flickering sky from left to right and right to left. 

The gate towers on either side of the party have been damaged by battle such that only the raised entrance floors are intact. Deciding to head towards the large construction in the northwest, the party advance towards an 8 foot tall red wall that runs northwards towards their left. Shadowy figures begin to form on the walls and one detaches slightly, gesturing wildly towards the western gate tower. Some of the party move towards the tower to investigate and, as the companions become separated, demonic figures emerge from the murk to the north and attack.

Sylke reacts badly to the demonic threat; as the tragedy of her past crashes in, she panics and runs to the tower shouting unintelligibly about rescuing "Master Grellin". As the fight intensifies, an isolated Cran picks up a score of minor injuries and battle-shock takes control of the hulking warrior. Fortunately, the powerful weapons that the party now wield are able to inflict terrible injuries when they strike home and after a brief struggle, the demonic creatures are defeated. Cran recovers quickly, aided by Ugnan's powers, Sylke to comes to her senses and her own magic rips through the remaining creatures. 

Though none of the party have any serious injuries, the sheer number of minor injuries is considerable and aware of the strange nature of the world that they have entered, the party are in a somber mood as they contemplate advancing deeper into the heart of the damned city.

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Situation Report Thirty One
Into the mouth of the beast

Sharna approached me while I was on the Skyship sketching a map of the island. She had a look of despair in her eyes as she said that she would be of limited help in the demon City – her incredible skill in unarmed combat would mean little to demons who are only hurt by holy or demon slaying weapons.

"You've done plenty Sharna. Just make sure this fucking ship is still here when we get back, and make sure Aroth doesn't steal it." After an awkward punch in the shoulder, she lowers her eyes and turns to stare out across the city. By Cay she may suffer worse than us, just sitting up here, waiting.

One of the marines from House Elgata is more than passing competent with double-bladed weapons and we recruit him in place of our Warrior Monk. "Victor, you've got some big shoes to fill mate."

After we are dropped off some ten miles from the City we trudge in silence to the glowering walls, acutely aware of the writhing gargoyles watching our approach. After a farcical couple of minutes trying to remember the password that provides us access to the ruined city, we remember 'Teraglustrod' and enter, perhaps too literally, the mouth of hell.

What are we doing?

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Chapter Three: Demons Of The Burning Night: Part Twelve
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Tarek Nev – The Red Gate

The deal with Aroth T'Kal made, the companions decide to fly over the forbidding city and try and put together some form of coherent plan. Ancient, and clearly having suffered the effects of an apocalyptic assault by the Amarrishi and other forces of Light, the city is very slowly beginning to be swallowed up by the verdant vegetation of Aranmor. Stone gargoyles perched on top of the distinctive red wall that surrounds the city fire shock bolts as the airship approaches but with little in the way of cloud cover in the late afternoon, the group are able to get a good overview of the city and Cran sketches a quick map

The only obvious way into the city unless the walls are scaled is the prominent gate to the west known as The Red Gate. The demonic guardian has defeated all who have come against him but fortunately, the books that Cherry and Sylke purloined from the tower at the center of the stockade suggest that there is a password to the gate that will persuade the demon to allow entry to Tarek Nev. One of the ship's crew, Victor,  replaces Sharna who has been recalled as a matter of some urgency to her monastery. Deftly wielding the menacing weapon, Remorse, Cran grudgingly accepts Sharna's apology and wonders how well he will fare with a new shieldbrother.

Approaching the gate on foot through the mists and steaming vegetation of the early morning, the party meet and pass the demon's challenge. Cherry uses her fortune telling deck of cards to try and gain some foresight into what awaits them. She senses that staying close to the out walls will offer them some protection or at least make it less likely that they encounter the demons and devils that haunt the city. Focussing her attention on the Portal Rods and the Aisling Stone, Cherry catches a tantalizing glimpse of where these items might be. 

The Rods are in an underground chamber that has a number of other crystals – in her vision, the party approached the crystals in good spirits with the sound of water all around them. The Stone on the other hand may be more difficult to obtain. In her vision, Cherry catches a glimpse of some stone steps that descend into an underground chamber. The steps are near a high vaulted room dominated by a huge statue. The party are returning from the underground chamber with the Stone but they have clearly been in a terrible battle. They are injured and one of the party is possibly being carried.

Ugnan, mispronounces the password on his first attempt but eventually the correct form is given and a slobbering fleshy tongue is rolled out to act as a bridge over the canal and the companions enter the city with their weapons at the ready …

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Situation Report Fucking Dire
This is it.

I look around the crew, each laden with a King's ransom in weapons and armour.  I've got to get rid of some of these bloody weapons. I can barely move with this weight, and the pair of heavy weapon harnesses on my back are creaking under the strain.

The horde of other items we found worries me greatly, however. No wonder the stuff was so well protected, the hourglass was once used, maybe even made, by The Slayer. What the fuck have you got yourself into Cran?

We secure the temple and walk back to Aroth's crew with a growing sense of foreboding. We're as prepared as we ever will be. Next step Tarek Nev.

I must confess that I couldn't concentrate on the petty bullshit negotiations between Ugnan, Cherry and Aroth, but it seems that big bastard will be operating as some sort of legal pirate for House Elgata in the future. I only wanted to secure him and his crew to tackle the ship from the Iron Bell in return for an escape from the Island. This  Letter of Marque will need some serious thought. If these merciless fuckers kill any innocent sailors after this they'll learn what 'Boulder' truly means.

Everyone seems full of the joys of spring as we settle down to sleep. Tomorrow we enter the City. I just wish I had the chance to see Sarissa one more time before we do.

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Chapter Three: Demons Of The Burning Night: Part Eleven
6056.1.63

A Deal With The Devil?

The decision to leave much of the discovered treaure behind, the companions return to the old stockade and the crew of "The Scourge". The ship's captain, Aroth, is eager to continue exploring ways to get what remains of his crew of the island and yet another cagey discussion begins centred around the air ship that Aroth knows is at the group's disposal. However a display of arcane power by Sylke and an intriguing offer of a partnership (of sorts) persuades Aroth that perhaps his best way of the island is to help Cran's crew waylay the ship that is due to arrive from Sel-kai. A "letter of Marque" is suggested that will allow the former crew of The Scourge to return to their piratical ways using the ship the party hope to seize from The Iron Bell cultists.

Sylke and Ugnan muse that perhaps attaching Aroth's (dubious) loyalties to House Elgata may prove beneficial for all involved. Certainly, Aroth and his second (Porgno) are willing. As a gesture of good faith, Aroth offers up the password that will be needed if the companions are to enter the city by The Red Gate but is surprised to discover that the party already have this information (courtesy of Sylke and Cherry's earlier investigation of the tower). The party now lay plans, aided by what Aroth's crew can recall of the layout of the demon-haunted city of Tarek Nev.

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Chapter Three: Demons Of The Burning Night: Part Ten
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The Temple Of The Forgotten Night- Treasure?

The companions investigate the remaining door and it leads onto two more long-dried up fountains. Sylke returns upstairs to the "pool of memories" and fills a water skin. When this water is poured into the middle fountain, Cran spots that the kregora-laced door begins to open. Adding ordinary water to the other two fountains from their water skins completes the opening and soon, Cran and the others can see into what appears to be a fabulous horde of treasure. An open chest is piled with golden Nureti coins and once Cherry deftly opens the remaining six chests, the group have yet another collection of weapons, armor and oddments. Sylke and Ugnan determine that all are enchanted but to their dismay, the items are rather malevolent and were clearly locked away for protection. The smallest item, a simple looking hour glass is perhaps the worst and most frightening of the treasures uncovered and the party spend some time debating what to do. Many of the things they have revealed could wreak hideous damage if allowed to fall into the wrong hands and the group unanimously agree that virtually everything they have found needs to be destroyed by dropping them into the heart of the sleeping volcano to the north. Agreeing that the items can be left here safely, they replace them and seal the vault again. It is time to return to the stockade and summon their airship. The city of Tarek Nev beckons but they must first dispose of the contents of the vault they have discovered.

Of major concern is the discovery of an Artefact once used by none other than Kadaena, "The Slayer" and legendary foe of the gods of the First Era.

Ingabron’s Tomes of the Panopticon

Demonhide Armor 

Gorthaur’s Bane 

Hourglass of The Slayer 

Kael’s Last Word 

Vampiric Armor 

Carpet of Flying

Carpet Of Meditation

Statue

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